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Bounce Back

A school- and group-based program designed to improve symptoms of posttraumatic stress, depression, and anxiety among children with posttraumatic stress symptoms.

Bounce Back is comprised of 10 one-hour group sessions of four to six students, two to three individual sessions, and one to three parent education sessions that span a 3-month period. Typically held during school hours, group sessions cover a range of topics, such as relaxation training, cognitive restructuring, social problem solving, positive activities, trauma-focused intervention strategies, and emotional regulation and coping skills. These topics and methods derive from established successful interventions for children with PTSD, including a gradual approach of anxiety-provoking situations and a modified trauma narratives approach.

Program elements designed specifically to function with participants aged 5-11 include identifying feelings and their links to thoughts and actions, using published storybooks to relate concepts and connect engagement activities, and creating personal storybooks as an age appropriate concrete trauma narrative. Student participation is encouraged with games and activities specific to age groups and with “courage cards” tailored to each student. Group sessions are structured, and include agenda setting; review of activity assignments; introduction of new topics through games, stories, and experiential activities; and assigning activities for the next group meeting.

Blueprints has certified two studies evaluating Bounce Back.

In Study 1, Langley et al. (2015) randomly assigned 74 students within four different schools to either immediate intervention or a waitlist control group. Parent- and child-reports of posttraumatic stress and depression, and child reports of anxiety symptoms, were assessed at baseline and three months after baseline (posttest). Compared to the control group at the posttest, treatment students significantly improved on posttraumatic stress symptoms (parent and child reported), anxiety symptoms (child reported), and emotional regulation as well as emotional/behavioral problems (both parent reported). Additionally, a protective factor, self-reported social adjustment, significantly improved for children who received the intervention as compared to children in the control group.

In Study 2, Santiago et al. (2018) conducted a cluster randomized controlled trial in which eight schools and 52 students were assigned to immediate intervention or a waitlist control group. Measures assessing PTSD symptoms, anxiety, depression, coping skills and classroom behavior were collected before the intervention (pretest) and three months after baseline (posttest). Study 2 reported that at the posttest, compared to the control group, students in the treatment group showed improvements in posttraumatic stress symptoms (child reported). In terms of risk and protective factors, the study reported that treatment students, as compared to control students, showed improvements in coping (parent reported).


Langley, A. K., Gonzalez, A., Sugar, C. A., Solis, D., & Jaycox, L. (2015). Bounce Back: Effectiveness of an elementary school-based intervention for multicultural children exposed to traumatic events. Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, 83(5), 853-865.

Santiago, C. D., Raviv, T., Ros, A. M., Brewer, S. K., Distel, L. M., Torres, S. A., . . . Langley, A. K. (2018). Implementing the Bounce Back trauma intervention in urban elementary schools: A real-world replication trial. School Psychology Quarterly, 33(1), 1.

Read the Program Fact Sheet


Blueprints for Healthy Youth Development
University of Colorado Boulder
Institute of Behavioral Science
UCB 483, Boulder, CO 80309


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Blueprints for Healthy Youth Development is
currently funded by Arnold Ventures (formerly the Laura and John Arnold Foundation) and historically has received funding from the Annie E. Casey Foundation and the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention.